<
>

Alabama's Ingram hot, Auburn's confidence not

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It wouldn’t be Monday without another edition of Hot and Not in the SEC, so here goes:

En Fuego

Alabama running back Mark Ingram: This guy isn’t just hot. He’s an inferno right now. Defenders around the league would probably rather tackle an inferno than tackling the 5-foot-10, 212-pound Ingram. He’s rushed for 558 yards in his last three games and set a Bryant-Denny Stadium record last Saturday in the 20-6 win over South Carolina with 246 yards on 24 carries. Ingram has such a low center of gravity that he’s impossible to get a good shot on, and he’s a man when it comes to running through tackles. He’s not just a pounder, though. He’s shown some breakaway speed, catches the ball well out of the backfield and takes a lot of pride in his pass protection. Alabama coach Nick Saban said it best: If you had a team full of guys who played the game the way Ingram does, you’d have one killer team.

Hot

Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon: Meet Mississippi State’s new all-time rushing leader. Dixon has strung together five straight 100-yard games and broke Jerious Norwood’s school record for most career rushing yards last Saturday with a 135-yard effort.

Not

Officiating: This is three straight weeks now where the officiating involving an SEC team has been called into question. Arkansas had a pair of 15-yard penalties go against it in the fourth quarter of its 23-20 loss to Florida that were questionable at best.

Hot

South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery: He garnered headlines in the offseason with the whole Lane Kiffin/pumping gas deal. But this kid can play. He had four more catches for 83 yards against Alabama and is making a push for Freshman of the Year honors in the SEC.

Not

Game-day attire: The oddest sight Saturday night prior to the Alabama-South Carolina game at Bryant-Denny Stadium was one fan walking around wearing an Early Doucet LSU jersey. Wonder if he was lost?

Hot

Arkansas running back Dennis Johnson: The Hogs were missing injured senior running back Michael Smith last week against Florida, but Johnson stepped right in with 246 all-purpose yards, including 107 yards rushing. He’d already proved how dangerous he was in the return game. Now, he’s just another weapon the Hogs can look to on offense.

Not

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy: All of a sudden, McElroy looks pretty average throwing the football after having the kind of red-hot start to the season nobody was really expecting. He admitted after Saturday’s game that he wasn’t seeing things like he did earlier this season.

Hot

Ole Miss’ defense: Despite not getting much help from the offense in key games, Tyrone Nix’s defense has performed at a championship level all season. The Rebels are ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense and have only given up six touchdowns in six games.

Not

Florida’s passing game: The Gators are leaning on tight end Aaron Hernandez and receiver Riley Cooper right now, and that’s about it. But it’s not just the pass-catchers. Tim Tebow hasn’t had as much time to throw this season, and defenses have kept him off balance by changing up their coverages.

Ice, Ice Baby

Auburn’s confidence: The more Auburn won in September, the more confidently the Tigers played. Even when they gave up a lot of yardage on defense (See the West Virginia game), they found a way to force six turnovers and win the game. The constant was Gus Malzahn’s balanced defense. The Tigers were running it when they needed to and passing it when they needed to. Now, on the heels of back-to-back losses, they’re not doing anything real well or real confidently. The 21-14 home loss to Kentucky last week makes you wonder where this club is emotionally right now. The lack of depth in key spots can’t be ignored, and it’s only going to get worse from here with no bye week in sight. The Tigers take on an LSU team this Saturday that should be rested after getting a bye last week. Another loss, and things could really go south for Gene Chizik’s club.